In solidarity with #Stonewall this weekend, I want to introduce y’all to Miss Marsha “Pay It No Mind” Johnson.
Marsha was a transgender activist who founded Street Transgender Action Revolutionaries (STAR) to help prevent homelessness and violence against gay & trans people in New York, but is best known as the Queen Who Threw The Shot Glass Heard Around the World.
When the bar at the Stonewall Inn was raided on June 28, 1969, Marsha was the first of the patrons to defend other clubgoers against the police - some of whom were sexually assaulting patrons, all of whom were misusing a law about selling liquor in dance halls to publicly humiliate, harass and institutionalize LGBTQ people. When the police’s lineups began, Marsha interrupted by throwing a shot glass into a mirror and launching the Stonewall Riot. Even though her crew of street queens were some of the most outcast in the community, they stood up for everyone present at Stonewall that night.
Marsha wasn’t done though. She became an active and visible member of the Gay Liberation Front that allied & “welcome[d] any gay person, regardless of sex, race, age or social behavior” to enable the culture together to resist & rise together. What happened at Stonewall with just a moment of resistance from Marsha P. Johnson, gained momentum and became the spark for the modern-day fight for LGBTQIA rights as we know them today.
Marsha was also one of Andy Warhol’s muses - appearing many times in his 1975 series “Ladies and Gentlemen” both in paintings and in Polaroids, but in 1992, her body was suspiciously found in New York’s Hudson River, and no criminal investigation was conducted. Although Marsha’s life was snuffed out unceremoniously, it left incredible impact on the LGBTQIA community, many of whom still lovingly refer to her (much as her charges at STAR did) as the True Drag Mother.